Who should follow the resigning Minister of Finance Ueli Maurer to the Federal Council for the SVP?
It’s serious on Friday. Then the SVP parliamentary group makes a pilgrimage to tranquil Hérémence VS. In the village of 1,300 below the Grande Dixence dam, the People’s Party wants to decide who it actually wants to propose to Parliament as the successor to the outgoing Finance Minister Ueli Maurer (71).
The parliamentary group board decided on Monday that it should be a two-way ticket – and is thus following the search committee. If you ask around in the party, ex-party leader Albert Rösti (55) has, as expected, the best cards to secure a ticket. “We can’t get around him,” was the tenor among the men and women of the SVP. He is also considered “romand-friendly” by the representatives of western Switzerland.
Vogt has the edge
The race for the second ticket place promises more excitement. There is a narrow margin between the Bernese Council of States Werner Salzmann (60) and the former Zurich National Councilor Hans-Ueli Vogt (52).
And this is where Vogt is currently in the lead. The Zurich SVP is in the process of tapping out its eastern Swiss colleagues in order to secure enough votes for Vogt. It is seen by many as a fitting complement to rösti, covering the facets of the party.
Here Rösti: the country bumpkin from a receiving canton. Vogt there: the Urbane from a donor canton. Nicely balanced regionally. In addition, if Vogt were not nominated, the largest and most important SVP section would be alienated just before the cantonal elections.
Policy chief assesses: “He has no chance in Parliament against Rösti”(01:02)
Salzmann’s disadvantage: Two Bernese is one too many
However: Vogt not only made friends in his party with his lumbering departure from the National Council when he said he felt like a tennis player on the soccer field. “As a member of the Federal Council, he would have to get along with us football players,” says one. Now that it’s about the fillet, he suddenly reappears, someone else scorns.
One should not underestimate Salzmann. The shrewd military politician knows how to win a manoeuvre. He has a good standing, especially with his colleagues in the Council of States and the security politicians in the party. The main argument against him is that he is from Bern – two Bernese on the ticket is one too many for many. What discourages some: Salzmann would love to take over the DDPS. “Then the DDPS will stick with us forever,” complains one. The party strategists prefer to target a key department like the energy department.
Policy chief assesses: “Salzmann should address the conservatives in the party”(00:44)
Even a triple ticket is still being discussed
In the parliamentary group board, the restriction to a two-person ticket was undisputed. Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out that an application for a three-way ticket will come at the parliamentary group meeting – “so that the church stays in the village”, as one SVPler says. However, such an application is likely to fail.
Nidwaldner government councilor Michèle Blöchliger (55) and Zug government councilor Heinz Tännler (62) are given little or no chance. Blöchliger has damaged her reputation with her secretive British citizenship, and Tännler lacks the network in Bern. However, some tried to get Zuger onto the ticket in order to give Rösti even better chances in parliament. They fear that Vogt could score points with the Left Party on December 7th and oust Rösti after all.
But that seems to be a minority. The majority of respondents assume that Rösti will be elected by Parliament to succeed Ueli Maurer. And so one says succinctly: “It doesn’t matter who we put on the ticket next to Rösti.”